More than half of nursing home residents (53% of them) always feel lonely, and at this time of isolation because of the Covid-19 pandemic, they most miss talking with family members (88%) and friends outside the home (70%). These are the results of the first survey on loneliness in nursing homes done by Hrvatski Telekom in cooperation with the market research agency SmartUp. The survey included residents of nursing home included in the first phase of the national program of digital education of the elderly, within which Hrvatski Telekom donated tablets and free internet for 14 homes throughout Croatia.
The survey has shown that isolation is particularly difficult for the population in nursing homes whose daily lives are no longer filled by visits from family members and friends (43% fewer visits), and 24% less socializing with other home residents. In such conditions, instead of physical human contact and face-to-face conversations that lasted an average of 23 minutes, short telephone conversations of only 5 minutes on a landline and 14 minutes via a mobile phone became an alternative way of communication. They also point out that in telephone conversations that were previously used by 13 percent, and now 43 percent of respondents, they really miss seeing their loved ones. The lack of digital skills significantly affects the time and quality of time that respondents spend talking to their families and friends. Because of all this, as many as a third of respondents in the survey expressed deeper signs of loneliness.
86 percent of nursing home residents have never spoken via video call, 74 percent do not even know how to make such call, but 90 percent want to learn how to do it, and would first call their children (47%), grandchildren, or great-grandchildren (23%).
Aware of the need for such education, Hrvatski Telekom, in cooperation with the Volunteer Center Zagreb, has launched a digital education program for the elderly. It prepares easy-to-understand educational videos through which home residents and all senior citizens can easily use various digital tools to be connected and in constant contact with their families and friends. Residents of 14 nursing homes in the City of Zagreb are already learning how to set up WhatsApp video calls on their tablets through prepared video trainings.
"This year has changed everyone's lives and asked for numerous adjustments to protect their loved ones. At the same time, we have become painfully aware of how important personal contact and socializing are to us and how much we need them to be able to function. At the same time, the introduced anti-epidemic measures particularly affected residents of nursing homes, who feel lonelier because of isolation. That is the reason why we have launched a national education program on the use of digital tools. We hope it will open the door to a whole new world for the elderly and enable them to be in contact with their loved ones when they are no longer allowed to", said Ivan Bartulović, The Chief Human Resources Officer of Hrvatski Telekom.
Next year, the national program will cover additional nursing homes throughout Croatia. They can apply for participation here, and educational videos will be continuously updated and published on the official channels of Hrvatski Telekom and will be available to all interested in digital education.
For Christmas, residents of nursing homes most want to be with family and friends (46%), health (43%), the end of the corona epidemic (14%), the return of a sense of freedom (7%), and an increase in pension (7%).